Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Robinson Still Talking Up Terps
Perhaps the most positive revelation, for UMD purposes, came from Trinity-Pawling (Pawling, N.Y.) defensive end Austrian Robinson, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound three star.
Robinson has listed the Terps as his No. 1 suitor for more than two months now, but a lot of times, when recruits begin taking official visits, you start to hear things like, “everyone’s even now” or “I don’t really want to say any leaders yet.”
Well, Robinson took his first official visit Sept. 19-21 to Purdue, and while he did talk up the Boilermakers, he had this to say about Maryland: “My top is Maryland. That’s No. 1 right now.”
Obviously, this bodes well for the Terps, who are badly in need of defensive line depth, claiming just one class of 2015 pledge so far in Keiron Howard (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.). We’re inclined to leave Robinson as “warm” on the hot board for now, however, because he does want to officially visit Miami (no offer yet) and UCF, in addition to UMD, before announcing his destination after his senior year. Syracuse, which he’s already seen before, is another prime contender.
But unless the Hurricanes offer and blow Robinson away during his visit, or unless a school like Ole Miss comes calling (not likely), we think the Terps are in the pole position. Of all the defensive line recruits currently on UMD’s board, Robinson -- who did unofficially visit UMD back in the spring -- is the most likely to wind up in College Park, Md.
You can read the recap of his Purdue visit HERE.
More Good News Along The D-Line
Other than Robinson, the second-most likely defensive lineman to end up a Terp is Lake Forest Academy’s (Lake Forest, Ill.) Wes Annan, who has also been “warm” on the hot board for a longtime now. Annan asked that media refrain from contacting him this fall so he can focus on his senior season, but Scout’s Allen Trieu was able to touch base with him after a game.
Annan, as anticipated, didn’t have much in the way of new news to report. He basically reiterated that he’s not taking visits until after his season’s finished; that he wants to major in orthopedic medicine; and that he’s looking for the proper balance between academics and football. But Annan did say he definitely wants to check out Maryland, making College Park his first official visit. He didn’t note any other programs in the update, but made sure to mention Maryland.
Now, what can we take away from that? Well, it’s obvious the Terps are on his brain, and, as we’ve said in the past, that can be attributed to his continued relationship with defensive line coach Chad Wilt. Moreover, we do think Annan has genuine interest in Maryland as a whole, and wouldn’t mind heading East for college.
But, unlike Robinson, Annan’s yet to visit College Park and has several other suitors pushing hard for him. Illinois and Boston College, two universities he’s stepped foot on before, are right in the thick of things, while Duke, Virginia and possibly Syracuse are involved as well.
We’ll know more about Annan’s true feelings following a couple official visits in late November/December.
Here’s Trieu’s scouting report on the 6-4, 275-pounder:
“He's a powerfully built kid who holds his ground well on the inside and plays with great motor. On a couple runs that didn't go right at him, he was able to shed and use his mobility to get to the ball carrier. He will have to adjust to see bigger, stronger linemen in college, but he has a good set of skills.”
And Even More Positive News Along The D-Line
Moving into the 2016 class, the Terps made one move and will likely make another in the near future on two elite local defensive linemen: Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) and Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.). The former picked up a UMD offer earlier this week, while the latter will probably add one after he visits the Terps Oct. 4 for a game, if not sooner.
While each has a growing profile, and neither will be easy pulls, both have been talking up the Terps. Simms, who added the Maryland offer on his birthday, called it “the best birthday present ever.” He’s been to College Park, has a developing relationship with line coach Chad Wilt, and likes the fact that Maryland is so close to home.
Simms, though, also claims verbals from Indiana, Iowa, Boston College and West Virginia, and said Penn State could be on the verge. Illinois and Virginia Tech are two others in close contact.
Simms just visited State College, Pa., a couple weeks back and plans to return for another game this fall. If the Nittany Lions pull through, the sense is it would be difficult for the Landon product to turn them down. But, for now at least, the Terps are in a good spot and did well to jump on Simms early.
As for Hall, we saw him play back during the preseason when he had just one FBS offer -- but it was obvious he’d be a double-digit guy. Though raw, he terrorized Gilman’s (Baltimore, Md.) offensive line that day, his size (6-5, 215), athleticism, and motor eye-popping.
Less than a month later, Hall now has offers from Connecticut, Rutgers, Iowa, Penn State, Toledo and Virginia Tech. Expect Maryland to ante up shortly.
Hall said PSU has caught his eye early, and he is indeed visiting State College this weekend. But Hall also noted how he’s looking forward to attending a UMD game (St. John’s plays Oct. 4, so he won’t be able to make the OSU bout), and is eager to see how the Terps perform against a top Big Ten opponent.
The St. John’s product mentioned that he’s familiar with College Park, has been on campus before and likes the fact it’s near home. Plus he’s a Mike Locksley recruit, so we do think if the Terps push they’ll have a puncher’s chance at landing him. It would certainly help UMD’s prospects, of course, if Maryland can knock off James Franklin and Co. when the two programs meet in Beaver Stadium later this fall.
Some Lukewarm D-Line News
Another 2015 Midwest Terps target, defensive tackle Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.), is taking his first official visit to Iowa State Sept. 26. We didn’t really consider the Cyclones to be a strong contender for Milan’s services, but evidently he’s been in close contact with the staff and seems to be intrigued.
Not that we expect him to commit, by any means. In fact, we still see Syracuse, a school he’s unofficially visited, as a prime contender, along with hometown Illinois, a program he’s seen several times. Maryland is right in the thick of things as well, but the vibe is the Illini and Orange may lead. Milan has hinted in the past he didn’t want to venture too far from home for college, making Illinois a logical choice. (He also spent three days in Champaign over the summer and came away raving).
The Chicago defensive tackle still wants to officially visit UMD -- along with Illinois and Syracuse -- however, and if the Terps get him on campus, they certainly have a shot. Area recruiter Chad Wilt has stayed on Milan and has done well to keep the Terps in the conversation.
Some Take It Or Leave It D-Line News
Five-star defensive end target Byron Cowart (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.) announced the rest of his official visits via Twitter this week. He's already seen Maryland and had high praise for the Terps, and now he'll take in Alabama when it plays Texas A&M Oct. 18; Florida when it plays South Carolina Nov. 15; Oregon Nov. 22; and Florida State Nov. 29 (when it plays Florida). Currently, it looks like UF is the leader in the clubhouse, with FSU right there as well. Oregon and Bama are probably next in line, with the Terps running fifth.
Cowart has no intentions of committing before the winter, though, so there's obviously time for him to change his mind. He'll likely take each of these next four officials, weigh how each program performed this year, and then make a decision once he has all the information he needs. At this point, unless UMD can shock the Big Ten, it looks like the Terps are on the outside looking in.
Some Not-So-Positive D-Line News
In last week’s Shell we said the ship was sailing on Canada Prep (St. Catharine’s, Ontario) defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, the four-star the Terps offered before his recruitment expanded to 40-some suitors. But now any slight glimmer of hope seems to have faded as Gallimore publicly announced a clear top five: Oklahoma, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida and Florida State.
Gallimore has already officially visited the Sooners, and is in the process of scheduling the next four to the aforementioned programs. That’s a bummer for the Terps and Chad Wilt, who made real inroads here.
Another DL Off The Board
For a period of about 18 hours, former Kentucky commit Darius Fullwood (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) was back on the open market, naming a top two of Virginia Tech and Maryland. The 6-4, 240-pound defensive end said he had nothing against the Wildcats, but wanted his family to be able to easily attend home games. (He also said he hadn’t had much contact with the Kentucky staff recently, leading me to believe the Cats’ coaches may have been sending a message, though that’s just speculation).
With that in mind, Fullwood, who had been considering decommitting for about a month, visited College Park for the UMD-West Virginia bout, and two weeks later traveled to Blacksburg, Va., for the Va Tech-Georgia Tech game. Three days after that, Fullwood had his mind made up. Before posting it on Twitter, he informed me Sept. 23 at Good Counsel he’d let head coach Frank Beamer know he wanted to be a Hokie.
Which wasn’t shocking at all. Virginia Tech finished a close second to Kentucky back in late June, with Maryland sitting third. And following his Sept. 20 trip to Tech, on which the entire Fullwood clan accompanied him, he came away gushing, all but tipping his hand.
The only surprise was the Good Counsel end didn’t wait to take official visits, something he said he’d do. Maybe the Hokies’ staff pressured him into a decision, but the vibe I got was he and his family were deadest on Tech anyway. He said UMD finished a close second, and praised defensive line coach Chad Wilt’s and area recruiter Mike Locksley’s efforts, but I’m not so sure the Terps were firmly on the brain.
Ultimately, though, it really doesn’t matter. Fullwood’s a Hokie and said he’ll take one official visit to Blacksburg before closing down his recruitment once and for all. And considering there are questions surrounding his motor, hands, aggressiveness, initial quickness and point-of-attack power, this wouldn’t seem to be a miss for Maryland. Perhaps Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster can cull out Fullwood’s talent, but at this point he has some things to work on before making an impact at the FBS level. Moving on.
Some surmised that with Fullwood opting out at Kentucky his good friend, Jabari Greenwood (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.), might waver on the Wildcats as well. Remember, the Good Counsel end and the Gonzaga receiver both made joint announcements for UK back on June 28, expressing a desire to attend the same school.
But after talking to Fullwood Sept. 23, I got the feeling Greenwood is staying put. The Good Counsel product told me he had spoken to Greenwood the day before, and the Zaga wideout was still happy with Lexington. Fullwood said Greenwood wants to play in Kentucky’s wide-open spread, and still has a close relationship with the staff there.
Even if Greenwood does renege down the road, he probably wouldn’t flip to Maryland unless there’s been a serious change of heart. The Terps, recall, did not make Greenwood’s top five before he popped. Moreover, UMD might not even pursue him with three class of 2015 wideouts already on board.
We put Greenwood’s name to bed a couple months ago, and we’re inclined to leave it there.
Another 2015 Quarterback?
A couple months back, following Kai Locksley’s (Gilman) pop to Florida State, we figured Maryland might look to the junior college ranks as it searched for a second class of 2015 signal caller. Recall, I spoke to the Scout JUCO recruiting guy, and he gave me a whole list of potential quarterback targets, who he thought could make an FBS impact.
Kelly Hilinski’s (Riverside C.C./Riverside, Calif.) name was not on that list, but evidently the Terps did touch base with his coaches recently. I spoke to Hilinski, and he told me his recruiting coach let him know Brian Stewart was interested and would be monitoring him. In turn, Hilinski said he’d love to hear from UMD and was intrigued about a possible scholarship.
But after watching Hilinski’s film and talking to a couple California connections, we’re not so sure Maryland actually offers the 6-7, 235-pounder. That said, Stewart’s initial interest does signal the Terps are indeed scanning the JUCO ranks for quarterbacks.
We’re in the process of sniffing around to see who UMD might pounce on, and there are a couple names cropping up. We’ll let you know who those are once we hear more definitive news. Stay tuned.
You can read my update HERE.
What’s Up With Ryan Davis?
Well, the elite Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) athlete, who projects as a receiver in college, just took in Florida State last weekend, and then received a visit from Florida coach Will Muschamp the following week. While Davis was riding an emotional high following his Maryland official Sept. 13-14, indicating the Terps could actually lead for his services, these most recent developments have a much more Sunshine-State centric feel to it.
It sounds like Muschamp and the Gators really want to close on this one, and UF has long been considered the team to beat. Meanwhile, Davis was thrilled with Tallahassee after watching FSU knock off Clemson.
We still think the Terps have a shot here, especially if Davis and his father follow through with a return flight to College Park (Davis said this was a definite possibility after I interviewed him), but it’s not going to be easy tangling with the two Florida elites.
We’ll see how this plays out later this fall. For now, Davis will probably attend a couple more Florida and FSU games before officially visiting both universities in November/December.
Davis is not going to pop anytime soon, because he wants to monitor how the Gators, Seminoles and Terps progress this season. Needless to say, Maryland needs a big season in the Big Ten.
Our Old Friend…
While checking in at Gonzaga, we inquired about four-star cornerback Marcus Lewis, who has already decommitted from Virginia Tech and Florida. Lewis just took in Michigan Sept. 20, and is set to officially visit UM, the stated favorite, in December. He noted how the UM staff has made consistent overtures and how comfortable he felt in Ann Arbor. Although Lewis wants to wait until Signing Day before announcing, it wouldn’t shock us if he popped to the Wolverines while on campus again, just as he did with UF and Va Tech previously.
Assuming he does hold off, Lewis wants to take officials to Oregon and Miami after UM, while Georgia, Maryland and Kentucky are in play for the final two trips.
Right now, Lewis is still considered a Terps longshot, but UMD is hanging around. Mike Locksley has stayed on the D.C. defensive back, and secondary coach Brian Stewart has been in touch as well, so at least Maryland is in the conversation. Sometimes, with local recruits, things come full circle and they wind up attending college right in their backyard. And with the mercurial Lewis, that’s always a possibility.
The Ohio State Game
We’ve already broken out numerous prospects who will be attending the Maryland-Ohio State game Oct. 4, including the name mentioned above: Keith Simms. Other notables on the list include quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Bethesda, Md.); the DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) youngins like Terrance Davis, Tino Ellis and LoLo Harrison; defensive tackle Ellison Jordan (Gilman); linebacker Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.); receiver Brennon Dingle (Spalding/Severn, Md.) and others. We’ll begin to roll out more visitors as the date draws nearer, but having Haskins, Jordan and Simms on campus again is a great start for UMD.
I was able to take in the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.) and Georgetown Prep (Bethesda, Md.) game Sept. 20 in order to scout and interview Maryland pledge Isaiah Davis, the younger brother of current Terp Sean Davis. The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder, who is being recruited as an inside linebacker, lined up at defensive end for the Saints, but said he should be rotating in at backer during the course of the year, depending on the opposing offense and the team’s needs. But even though I didn’t get a chance to see him dropping back, I got a pretty good idea of what Davis brings to the table.
Statistically, he ended up with six tackles, a sack and three quarterback hurries, but numbers don’t really tell the story when projecting high school recruits. What I gleaned was this: Davis is an athletic, quick and hard-hitting specimen with a sturdy, well-built frame. He’s heady, has solid fundamentals and has the agility to play in space. Davis is not especially vocal, but he’s an intense competitor and takes pride in his craft.
That said, he has to work on becoming even more potent at the point of attack; actively getting downhill; and his drops and coverage skills; in addition to ironing out technical issues (i.e. hand placement, hip stiffness). Overall, though, Davis looks to be a solid player who should at least be a rotational linebacker at UMD.
After the game, a 34-30 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes victory, Davis reaffirmed his commitment to Maryland. He said he has no other visits planned and will be taking in a couple UMD games this year. Davis said he’s in touch with area recruiter Lyndon Johnson several times each week and is maintaining a rapport with the staff.
You can read my report HERE.
The day before, Keith watched Good Counsel take on Gilman in order to scout 2016 Terps target KeAndre Jones. This emerging outside linebacker already holds double-digit offers, but has long been high on Penn State and Maryland.
At this point, the Nittany Lions may be the team to beat -- he’s visited State College and ate up the atmosphere, as well as head coach James Franklin’s message -- though there’s no denying his affinity for the hometown program. Recruiter Mike Locksley was on Jones (who grew up a Terps fan) early, and the relationship at least has UMD in a solid position as his recruitment moves forward.
Now, can the kid ball? Certainly. He’s a versatile jack-of-all trades with the speed to line up at safety, the agility and athleticism to line up at linebacker, and potentially the power to line up at defensive end. He’ll be an outside linebacker in college, and his multitude of skills should allow him to play in space, set the edge and even rush the passer.
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